| Quote #22
This had a lesson for us all; we must convince ourselves that there is no island of escape in time of plague. No, there was no middle course. We must accept the dilemma and choose either to hate God or to love God. And who would dare choose to hate Him? (4.4.16)
The notion of being forced into religion is strengthened in this passage; it’s almost as if Father Paneloux has been religiously exiled, trapped, so to speak, in this one undesirable frame of mind – the all-or-nothing.
| Quote #23
"My brothers […], the love of God is a hard love. It demands total self-surrender, disdain of our human personality. And yet it alone can reconcile us to suffering and the deaths of children, it alone can justify them, since we cannot understand them, and we can only make God’s will ours. That is the hard lesson I would share with you today. That is the faith, cruel in men’s eyes, and crucial in God’s, which we must ever strive to compass." (4.4.17)
In some sense, Paneloux’s argument isn’t all that different from Rieux’s. Both argue that suffering serves a purpose: it elucidates the very nature of our lives. Remember when Rieux cited "suffering" as that which taught him all he knows? He wasn’t exactly justifying the torturous death of an innocent child, but still. Suffering may be senseless, but that doesn’t mean it is ineffective.
| Quote #24
He paid tribute to the preacher’s eloquence, but the boldness of thought Paneloux had shown gave him pause. In his opinion the sermon had displayed more uneasiness than real power, and at Paneloux’s age a man had no business to feel uneasy.
Paneloux is criticized by men of his religion for what appears to be wavering faith in the face of the plague. In their eyes, that he would at all consult with a doctor, rather than leave matters to God, is nearly heresy.